Are you looking for a new job because you feel pressured to get back in the office? Whilst working from home in your yoga pants alongside your faithful hound has its appeal, have you stopped to think about the personal benefits to you of getting back into the office? Office life is changing, working practices are shifting, but life in the office still brings you benefits that you want to capitalise on.
We know that many are resistant about returning to office life, but it’s time to consider why it benefits us as individuals.
The benefits of working in the office
- Connections and engagement
Often referred to as the X-factor, which gives some hint of how hard this is to quantify, coming back into the office offers opportunities for connection and engagement with others that are impossible to emulate remotely. We get the ‘bandwagon effect’ all collaborating together.
When you are physically united in a common endeavour, wonderful things happen and you as an individual can shine more brightly because of others than when you’re isolated at home. Relationships make the individual better. Just being together releases the feel-good hormone oxytocin which has actually been shown to improve mental function.
- Flexibility, truly
We’ve come to think of flexibility being synonymous with WFH. But is it really? Surely flexibility should be about options. Sometimes there’s no escaping that it’s actually in your interests to have the opportunity to be in the office. If your other half is home looking after the kids anyway, why would you want to be there with the risk of disruption when an adult office beckons? Conversely, sometimes it’s useful to be at home. The fact is that true flexibility is about choice and variety.
That flexibility may wither and die if it’s not used or maintained. Specifically, employers may simply remove the WFH option entirely if flexibility isn’t a two-way street.
- Organisational culture
The organisational culture actually matters to you as an individual. You only need to work somewhere where the culture jars with you to realise its importance. The culture directly impacts your wellbeing and it often drives an individual’s passion. The support and collaboration that makes work good is fuelled by a culture which can only be maintained with a certain amount of face-to-face office interaction.
- Incidental learning and opportunities
The amount of learning and opportunities that spring up incidentally in office life are tricky to quantify but hugely benefits you. A mentoring relationship that sprang up over a discovered shared love of Star Wars, or a chance to witness a colleague doing something you’ve not done before, are just a couple of examples of how you can’t plan for everything. You need to be there to benefit from these incidental moments.
- Work life balance
In the digital age, the work-life balance is incredibly hard to achieve. Take down the physical distance of ‘work’ and ‘home’ and it’s even harder. We know that since WFH in Covid times, employees are working on average 2 extra hours a day. That’s a huge amount and unsustainable in terms of stress and health. Going to a workplace, and coming home to ‘home’, allows you to mentally switch off and achieve a healthier balance, even if you occasionally log in remotely.
- You provide evidence
In an ideal world of working adults, you wouldn’t need a bum on a seat to prove your value. However, no matter how much you wish it wasn’t like it; there is always some degree of presenteeism as a measure of work done. You demonstrate that you work without distractions and put in the graft.
It won’t be put in writing but your career development is going to thank you for being present in the office. Managers will, by nature of being human, pay more attention to what they see and hear regularly.
- Belonging and identity
As humans, a large chunk of our fulfilment comes from feeling accepted and belonging. In the modern world, that largely comes from our workplace. You have a shared purpose and that makes you feel part of something worthwhile.
We benefit from going to work in obvious ways like being paid and being given benefits. But it’s time to think about the additional benefits like support and stimulation.
Just don’t underestimate how much you may benefit from going back to the office.